Circuit de la Sarthe

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Circuit des 24 Heures
Circuit de la Sarthe
Circuit de la Sarthe track map.svg
Location Le Mans, Pays de la Loire, France
Coordinates 47°56′15.7″N 0°13′32.2″E / 47.937694°N 0.225611°E / 47.937694; 0.225611Coordinates: 47°56′15.7″N 0°13′32.2″E / 47.937694°N 0.225611°E / 47.937694; 0.225611
Owner Automobile Club de l'Ouest
Ville du Mans
Operator Automobile Club de l'Ouest
Opened 1923
Major events ACO / FIA WEC
24 Hours of Le Mans
FIM MotoGP
French Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans Moto
Circuit de la Sarthe
Surface Tarmac
Length 13.629 km (8.469 mi)
Turns 38
Lap record 3:17.475 (André Lotterer, Audi Sport Team Joest, 2015, LMP1)
Bugatti Circuit
Surface Tarmac
Length 4.273 km (2.655 mi)
Turns 14
Lap record 1:32.879 (Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, 2015)
Website www.lemans.org/en/

The Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans,[1] also known as Circuit de la Sarthe[2] (after the 1906 French Grand Prix triangle circuit) located in Le Mans, Maine, France, is a semi-permanent race course chiefly known as the venue for the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race. Comprising private, race-specific sections of track in addition to public roads which remain accessible most of the year, its present configuration is 13.629 kilometres (8.469 mi) long, making it one of the longest circuits in the world. Capacity of the race stadium, where the short Bugatti Circuit is situated, is 100,000. The Musée des 24 Heures du Mans is a motorsport museum located at the main entrance of the venue.

Up to 85% of the lap time is spent on full throttle, meaning immense stress on engine and drivetrain components. However, the times spent reaching maximum speed also mean tremendous wear on the brakes and suspension as cars must slow from over 200 mph (320 km/h) to around 65 mph (100 km/h) for the sharp corner at the village of Mulsanne.

Track modifications[edit]

The track, which was a triangle from Le Mans down south to Mulsanne, northwest to Arnage, and back north to Le Mans, has undergone many modifications over the years, with CIRCUIT N° 15 being in use since 2014. Even with the modifications put in place over the years, the Sarthe circuit is still known for being very fast, with prototype cars achieving average speeds in excess of 230 km/h (140 mph).

In the 1920s, the cars drove from the present pits on Rue de Laigné straight into the city, and after a sharp right-hand corner near the river Sarthe Pontlieue bridge (a hairpin permanently removed from the circuit in 1929), before exiting the city again on the rather straight section now named Avenue Georges Durand after the race's founder. Then 17.261 kilometres (10.725 mi) long and unpaved, a bypass within the city shortened the track in 1929, but only in 1932 the city was bypassed when the section from the pits via the Dunlop Bridge and the Esses to Tertre Rouge was added. This classic configuration was 8.369 miles (13.469 km) long and remained almost unaltered even after the 1955 tragedy. Its frighteningly narrow pit straight was narrowed off to make room for the pits and was part of the road itself, without the road becoming wider just for the pits. The pit straight was about 12 feet (3.7 m) wide (the pit straight was widened in 1956) and the race track and pits were not separated for another 15 years. The pit area was modified at a cost of 300 million francs, the signalling area was even moved to the exit of the slow Mulsanne corner, and the track was resurfaced.

Car speeds increased dramatically in the 1960s, pushing the limits of the "classic circuit" and sparking criticism of the track as being unsafe, after several trials related fatalities occurred. Since 1965, a smaller but permanent Bugatti Circuit was added which shares the pit lane facilities and the first corner (including the famous Dunlop bridge) with the full "Le Mans" circuit. For the 1968 race, the Ford chicane was added before the pits to slow down the cars. The circuit was fitted with Armco for the 1969 race. The "Maison Blanche" kink was particularly harrowing, claiming many cars over the years (including three Ferrari 512 variants) and several lives, including the legendary John Woolfe in 1969 behind the wheel of a 917 Porsche . The circuit was modified ten more times—in 1971 (a year where the prototypes were averaging over 240 km/h (150 mph), and was also the last year the classic circuit was used). Armco was added to the pit straight to separate the track from the pits, and in 1972, the last part of the race track was revamped considerably with the addition of the quick Porsche curves bypassing "Maison Blanche" and part of the first straight and all of the second straight between the pits and Maison Blanche.

The chicane at the Dunlop Bridge.

In 1979, due to the construction of a new public road, the profile of "Tertre Rouge" had to be changed. This redesign led to a faster double-apex corner and saw the removal of the second Dunlop Bridge. In 1986, construction of a new roundabout at the Mulsanne corner demanded the addition a new portion of track in order to avoid the roundabout. This created a right hand kink prior to Mulsanne corner. In 1987, a chicane was added to the very fast Dunlop curve where cars would go under the Dunlop bridge at 180 mph (290 km/h), now they would be slowed to 110 mph (180 km/h).

In 1990, two chicanes were added onto the Mulsanne Straight (explained in more detail below), and in 1994, the Dunlop chicane was tightened. In 2002, the run to the Esses was reconfigured in the wake of renovations to the Bugatti Circuit. The Le Mans circuit was changed between the Dunlop Bridge and Esses, with the straight now becoming a set of fast sweeping turns. This layout allowed for a better transition from the Le Mans circuit to the Bugatti circuit. This layout change would also require the track's infamous carnival to be relocated near the Porsche curves, and in 2006, the ACO redeveloped the area around the Dunlop Curve and Dunlop Chicane, moving the Dunlop Curve in tighter to create more run-off area, while also turning the Dunlop Chicane into a larger set of turns. As part of the development, a new extended pit lane exit was created for the Bugatti Circuit. This second pit exit re-enters the track just beyond the Dunlop Chicane and before the Dunlop Bridge.

Following the fatal crash of Danish driver Allan Simonsen at the 2013 race at the exit of Tertre Rouge into D338, Tertre Rouge was re-profiled again. The radius will be moved in approximately 200m for safety reasons with new tyre barriers at the exit.[3]

Part of the Mulsanne Straight.

Le Mans was most famous for its 6 km (3.7 mi) long straight, called Ligne Droite des Hunaudières, a part of the route départementale (for the Sarthe département) D338 (formerly Route Nationale N138). As the Hunaudières leads to the village of Mulsanne, it is often called the Mulsanne Straight in English, even though the proper Route du Mulsanne is the one from or to Arnage.

After exiting the Tertre Rouge corner, cars spent almost half of the lap at full throttle, before braking for Mulsanne Corner. The Porsche 917 long tail, used from 1969 to 1971, had reached 362 km/h (225 mph),.[4] After engine size was limited, the top speed dropped until powerful turbo engines were allowed, like in the 1978 Porsche 935 which was clocked at 367 km/h (228 mph).[5] Speeds on the straight by the Group C prototypes reached over 400 km/h (250 mph) during the late 1980s. At the beginning of the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans race, Roger Dorchy driving for Welter Racing in a "Project 400" car, which sacrificed reliability for speed, was clocked by radar travelling at 405 kilometres per hour (252 mph). Fatal high speed accidents in the 1980s happened to Jean-Louis Lafosse in 1981 and to Jo Gartner in 1986.

As the combination of high speed and high downforce caused tyre and engine failures, two roughly equally spaced chicanes were consequently added to the straight before the 1990 race to limit the achievable maximum speed.[6] The chicanes were added also because the FIA decreed it would no longer sanction a circuit which had a straight longer than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi).,[7] which is roughly the length of the Döttinger Höhe straight at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The fastest qualifying lap average speed dropped only from 249.826 to 243.329 km/h (155.235 to 151.198 mph) in 1992, and it rose up to a record 251.882 km/h (156.512 mph) in 2017, beating the previous all-time of 250.069 and 251.815 km/h (155.386 and 156.471 mph) set by the Porsche 917 and 962, respectively. Regarding the lap record in the race itself, 2015 saw the fastest ever, thanks to turbos and hybrid power.

Lap records[edit]

Years Record year Distance record Average race speed Lap record (in race) Driver – car Lap record (qualifying) Driver – car
Circuit N°1 – 17.262 km
1923–1928 1928 2,669.27 km (1,658.607 mi)
Bentley
111.219 km/h (69.108 mph) 8:07 (127.604 km/h (79.289 mph))
in 1928
H.Birkin
Bentley
Circuit N°2 – 16.340 km
1929–1931 1931 3,017.654 km (1,875.083 mi)
Alfa Romeo
125.735 km/h (78.128 mph) 6:48 (144.362 km/h (89.702 mph))
in 1930
H.Birkin
Bentley
Circuit N°3 – 13.492 km
1932–1955 1955 4,135.38 km (2,569.606 mi)
Jaguar D
172.308 km/h (107.067 mph) 4:06.6 (196.963 km/h (122.387 mph))
in 1955
M.Hawthorn
Jaguar D
Circuit N°4 – 13.461 km
1956–1967 1967 5,232.9 km (3,251.573 mi)
Ford Mk IV
218.038 km/h (135.483 mph) 3:23.6 (238.014 km/h (147.895 mph))
in 1967
M.Andretti & D.Hulme
Ford Mk IV
3:24.04 (236.082 km/h (146.695 mph))
in 1967
B.McLaren
Ford Mk IV
Circuit N°5 – 13.469 km
1968–1971 1971 5,335.31 km (3,315.208 mi)
Porsche 917
222.304 km/h (138.133 mph) 3:18.4 (244.397 km/h (151.861 mph))
in 1971
J.Oliver
Porsche 917
3:13.9 (250.069 km/h (155.386 mph))
in 1971
P. Rodríguez
Porsche 917
Circuit N°6 – 13.640 km
1972–1978 1978 5,044.53 km (3,134.526 mi)
Alpine-Renault A442 B
210.189 km/h (130.605 mph) 3:34.2 (229.244 km/h (142.446 mph))
in 1978
J.P.Jabouille
Alpine-Renault A443
3:27.6 (236.531 km/h (146.974 mph))
in 1978
J.Ickx
Porsche 936
Circuit N°7 – 13.626 km
1979–1985 1985 5,088.51 km (3,161.854 mi)
Porsche 956
212.021 km/h (131.744 mph) 3:25.1 (239.169 km/h (148.613 mph))
in 1985
J.Ickx
Porsche 962
3:14.8 (251.815 km/h (156.471 mph))
in 1985
H.Stuck
Porsche 962
Circuit N°8 – 13.528 km
1986 1986 4,972.73 km (3,089.911 mi)
Porsche 962 C
207.197 km/h (128.746 mph) 3:23.3 (239.551 km/h (148.850 mph))
in 1986
K.Ludwig
Porsche 956
3:15.99 (243.486 km/h (151.295 mph))
in 1986
J.Mass
Porsche 962 C
Circuit N°9 – 13.535 km
1987–1989 1988 5,332.79 km (3,313.642 mi)
Jaguar XJR9
221.665 km/h (137.736 mph) 3:21.27 (242.093 km/h (150.430 mph))
in 1989
A.Ferté
Jaguar XJR9
3:15.04 (249.826 km/h (155.235 mph))
in 1989
J.L.Schlesser
Sauber Mercedes C9
Circuit N°10 – 13.600 km
1990–1996 1993 5,100 km (3,168.993 mi)
Peugeot 905
213.358 km/h (132.575 mph) 3:27.47 (235.986 km/h (146.635 mph))
in 1993
E.Irvine
Toyota TS010
3:21.209 (243.329 km/h (151.198 mph))
in 1992
Ph.Alliot
Peugeot 905
Circuit N°11 – 13.605 km
1997–2001 2000 5,007.98 km (3,111.815 mi)
Audi R8
208.666 km/h (129.659 mph) 3:35.032 (227.771 km/h (141.530 mph))
in 1999
U.Katayama
Toyota GT-One
3:29.93 (233.306 km/h (144.970 mph))
in 1999
M.Brundle
Toyota GT-One
Circuit N°12 – 13.650 km
2002–2005 2004 5,169.97 km (3,212.470 mi)
Audi R8
215.415 km/h (133.853 mph) 3:33.483 (230.182 km/h (143.028 mph))
in 2002
T.Kristensen
Audi R8
3:29.905 (234.106 km/h (145.467 mph))
in 2002
R.Capello
Audi R8
Circuit N°13 – 13.650 km
2006 2006 5,187 km (3,223.052 mi)
Audi R10 TDI
215.409 km/h (133.849 mph) 3:31.211 (232.658 km/h (144.567 mph))
in 2006
T.Kristensen
Audi R10 TDI
3:30.466 (233.482 km/h (145.079 mph))
in 2006
R.Capello
Audi R10 TDI
Circuit N°14 – 13.629 km
Since 2007 2010 5,410.71 km (3,362.059 mi)
Audi R15 TDI plus
225.228 km/h (139.950 mph) 3:17.475 (248.459 km/h (154.385 mph))
in 2015
A.Lotterer
Audi R18 e-tron quattro
3:14.791 (251.882 km/h (156.512 mph))
in 2017
Kamui Kobayashi
Toyota TS050 Hybrid

Bugatti Circuit[edit]

Bugatti Circuit

Bugatti Circuit is a permanent race track located within Circuit des 24 Heures, named after Ettore Bugatti. The circuit uses a part of the larger circuit and a separate, purpose-built section. The sections of track on the Bugatti Circuit that are on the Circuit des 24 Heures include the Ford Chicane at the end of the lap, the pit complex, and the straight where the Dunlop Tyres bridge is located. At this point in the overlapping section of the tracks there is a left right sweep that was added for motorcycle safety in 2002. Vehicles turning to the left continue onto the Circuit des 24 Heures, toward Tertre Rouge and Mulsanne, vehicles turning to the right at La Chapelle will continue the Bugatti Circuit. The infield section features Garage Vert, a back straight, the 'S' du Garage Bleu, and Raccordement, which joins back at the Ford chacane.

The track was home base for Pescarolo Sport, founded by famous French driver Henri Pescarolo. The circuit also hosts the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle race, and a round of the MotoGP Championship. The circuit also holds French motor club races and in the past has hosted rounds of the International Formula 3000 Championship and DTM (German Touring Car series).

As well as motor racing it is the venue for the 24 rollers, a 24h race on inline skates or quads.

The Bugatti Circuit was used for the 1967 French Grand Prix, though it would prove to be the only time the Formula One World Championship would use the circuit, and is the current host of the French motorcycle Grand Prix. It also forms the final round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship, and was part of the World Series by Renault and 1988 Superbike World Championship seasons.

Speed record[edit]

In 1988, Team WM Peugeot knew they had no chance of winning the 24-hour endurance race, but they also knew that their Welter Racing designed car had very good aerodynamics. Thus they nicknamed their 1988 entry "Project 400" (aiming to be the first car to achieve a speed of 400 km/h on the famous straight), although the official team entry was named WM Secateva.

Roger Dorchy and Claude Haldi would be the drivers of car 51 while Pascal Pessiot and Jean-Daniel Raulet would drive the team's other car (#52). The latter lasted only 22 laps, and car 51 went into the pits around 17:00 in the afternoon with engine problems. After spending 3,5 hours in the pits, the team had the car back on the track and they decided to go for it. The plan worked: with Roger Dorchy behind the wheel the WM P87 achieved the speed of 407 km/h (253.0 mph). The Peugeot retired shortly after that (on lap 59) with an overheating engine. By then it had outlasted two other Group C1 entrants.[8]

Since Peugeot had just launched its new model 405, the team agreed to advertise the new record as "405". This has lead to many people mistakenly stating the record as only 405 km/h, but Dorchy's best run down the Mulsanne straight was clocked at 407 km/h.[8]

Race results[edit]

The Le Mans race results in Bugatti and La Sarthe circuit.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Official rules for 2016 3.1.2 24 HEURES DU MANS ... La course se déroule les samedi 18 et dimanche 19 juin 2016 sur le circuit des 24 Heures du Mans. Longueur du circuit : 13,629 km
  2. ^ "ACO Homepage 24 Heures". ACO. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  3. ^ "24 Hours of Le Mans - ACO - Automobile Club de l'Ouest". 24h-lemans.com. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  4. ^ Fuller 2010.
  5. ^ Leffingwell, Randy (2005). Porsche 911: Perfection by Design. Motorbooks. p. 155. 
  6. ^ Speedhunters staff 2008.
  7. ^ RC staff 2015.
  8. ^ a b "In 1988, a Renegade Le Mans Team Broke The Record At The Mulsanne Straight". roadandtrack.com. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 

External links[edit]